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100,000 Premature Deaths Annually from Phthalate Exposure
Just Out! In an October 2021 study published in the journal Environmental Pollution, researchers found that daily exposure the a group of hormone disruptors that are primarily used to make plastic food containers and numerous cosmetics may cause in the neighborhood of 100,000 premature deaths each year in older Americans. The economic annual cost of this loss is estimated between $40 billion and $47 billion per year.
The dangers of these phthalates have been known for decades, and some studies have found that nearly 100 percent of all Americans have some level of phthalates in their bodies.
Phthalates are some of the most dangerous hormone disruptors and studies have linked exposure to these chemicals to delayed brain development, behavioral issues and an inability to focus in children. According to the Environmental Working Group, this class of endocrine disruptors is also known to change hormone levels, reduce sperm count, lower testosterone, and cause birth defects as well as increase the risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart and thyroid issues.
Recent studies have linked greater than 10,000 deaths a year to lowered testosterone levels in adult men caused by phthalate chemical exposure. These deaths cost Americans an additional nearly $9 billion in lost economic productivity.
In this current study, researchers looked at more than 5,000 adults between the ages of 55 and 64 and found that those with the highest phthalate concentrations in their urine were at greater risk of dying from heart disease than those with lower levels of phthalates. They also found that American adults with the highest phthalates concentrations were at greater risk of dying from any cause, although they did not find an increased risk of death from cancer.
Phthalates in Food
Phthalates are found in plastic food and beverage containers in order to make them more flexible. They are used in plastic wrap, children’s toys, perfumes, nail polish, and hidden in ingredient labels as fragrances. They are also found in vinyl flooring and in higher levels in fast food consumers, likely due to the plastics used.
In 2014, a meta-analysis of 17 studies evaluated phthalate levels in food commonly consumed in the United States. Researchers found high concentrations in poultry, cooking oils, and cream-based dairy products, and low concentrations across all food groups. Two of the 17 studies found that diets that were high in meat and dairy had a two-fold increase in phthalate levels. These levels were thought to be from contamination during food processing and manufacturing. One more reason not to eat processed food.
6 Steps for Avoiding Phthalates
- Avoid plastic wrap and plastic food containers made from PVC with recycling label #3.
- Use glass or stainless steel food containers.
- Avoid fast food. One study found that people who regular consume fast food have higher concentrations of phthalates in their urine.
- Do not reheat foods in plastic containers.
- Only use environmentally safe cleaning products
- Use only natural skin care. Rule of thumb: use products with recognizable ingredients only.